NIGERIA and other African countries have been told that they do not need to face dismemberment in addressing separatist agitations, rather they needed extensive restructuring, true and just federal systems to serve the diverse nature of the vast territories of their countries.
Making the call on Monday in New York, the Deputy President of the Nigeria Senate, Ike Ekweremadu noted that “the central government, in most instances, is too big, too powerful, and out of control. No argument that is both coherent and respectable can be made to support the continued emasculation of the component states that make up Nigeria or other African nations.”
Delivering the 10th anniversary lecture of the Centre for Media and Peace Initiatives, “Constitutionalism and the Challenges of Leadership in Africa: An Evaluation of Tested Models,” Ekweremadu further called on African countries to embrace far-reaching constitutional reforms as a way of addressing the challenges of leadership and development in the continent.
Ekweremadu noted that despite the relative success many African countries recorded in reviewing their constitutions, the issues that plague the continent could not be fully resolved by such amendments.
In a statement by his special media adviser, Uche Anichukwu, the DPS stated that “salient features in Africa, such as weak, ineffective and overbearing leaders, ethnic irredentism, agitations for partitioning, restructuring, systemic injustices and inequities, would never go away unless constitutionalism based on appropriate constitutions are entrenched to address the factors that breed them.
“Some African citizens believe that the current constitutional arrangements have confined them to the margins of national life and deprived them of the benefits of belonging to their nations.
“Therefore, extensive constitutional reform seems to be the only alternative to the upheavals that will inevitably flow from agitations for justice and good governance by dissatisfied ethnic groups and citizens.”
He pointed out that, Africans “have never really engaged in substantive deliberations and dialogue about the constitutional format for governing themselves, hence it may well be time for such a dialogue to fashion out constitutions that are acceptable to all.”
Ekweremadu also restated his call for a hybrid of the presidential and parliamentary systems with safeguards, such as single term, rotational presidency, proportional representation, vote of no confidence in place of rigorous impeachment processes to better guarantee democratic governance and constitutionalism in Africa.
He stated: “A single term presidency that rotates among the ethnic groups or geographical zones, even if for a defined period, may prove reassuring to ethnic groups and promote loyalty to the nation because every constituent part will be reassured that power will come their way at a given interval.
“Single term for political chief executives will reduce the acrimonious conflict, divisiveness, and instability arising from partisan or factional competition for executive offices in most African nations.
“It will also help African nations avoid the distractions, manipulations and acrimony of re-election campaigns, while facilitating a more rapid circulation or rotation of power among the various groups.”
Africans have never really engaged in substantive deliberations and dialogue about the constitutional format for governing themselves, hence it may well be time for such a dialogue to fashion out constitutions that are acceptable to all